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Location: Birmingham, MI, United States

Councilman John Akouri, former Washington, DC Press Secretary & Capitol Hill Advisor, is President & CEO of the Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Spring IVC Auction Raises Money and Visibility

Plans Underway to Make John Akouri 2006 Celebrity Auctioneer

(GROSSE POINTE FARMS, MI)…On Friday, May 13, the annual Gala Dinner Dance Auction to benefit the International Visitors Council of Detroit (IVC) was held. Both live and silent portions of the auction took place following the dinner at the historic Country Club of Detroit.

The event attracted more than 200 patrons and raised thousands of dollars from the sale of many donated items. Auction participants remained dry indoors on what was otherwise a rainy Spring evening. Lively bidding competition, a variety of rare values, special tours of the clubhouse, dancing to the tunes of a live band, and an excellent array of delicacies and refreshments were all part of the entertaining gala event.

Farmington Hills City Councilman John Akouri served as the celebrity auctioneer for the live portion of the event. His expertise, generosity and good humor contributed greatly to the success of the fundraising effort. Akouri raised hundreds of dollars for the organization with the bidding and eventual sale of a donated international Satellite Phone. His participation promoted friendly competition, good will and a festive atmosphere. IVC Executive Director Julie Oldani and Program Coordinator Regan Watson-Krdu provided the professional appraisal and administrative support that ensured a positive experience for all auction bidders. Donated items included: art, antiques, professional services, dining opportunities, furniture, electronic equipment and all sorts of interesting oddities.


The mission of the International Visitors Council is to promote understanding and mutual respect between metro Detroiters and international visitors. Founded in 1972, IVC Detroit has welcomed more than 12,000 international dignitaries sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, planning professional meetings, cultural opportunities and hosting for them. Members are volunteer "citizen diplomats" who welcome the visitors to their workplaces and homes, introducing them to American culture and customs. IVC Detroit is one of 95 councils nationwide belonging to the National Council of International Visitors.
The Country Club of Detroit was founded on October 1, 1897 along the shores of Lake St. Clair. The clubhouse was an existing clubhouse refurbished to meet the needs of the CCD. James Foulis, an old school Scot who had been serving the Country Club of Chicago, designed the golf course. The first golf professional/teacher was W. H. Way who also had credentials – that of British heritage. The golf course was a three-mile course along the shoreline of Lake St. Clair.

Throughout its history, the Club has been a center for sports activities, hosting the National Amateur golf tournament on two occasions, 1915 and 1954. Arnold Palmer’s victory in the 1954 National Amateur was a turning point in his life and is a place in history remembered by the CCD.

In 1997 the CCD celebrated its 100th year of existence in its fourth clubhouse surrounded by its third golf course. Ten clay tennis courts, four platform tennis courts, six bowling lanes, a magnificent outdoor pool and a short nine hole course all help to make the club a center for sports activities.

What activities have occurred at the CCD over these 100+ years fills history books. The Club’s history spans WWI, Prohibition, the Stock Market crash of 1929, and the following depression, WWII, the era of the debutantes, all the big bands in America, and several clubhouse transformation parties beautiful beyond imagination.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

STATE OF MICHIGAN SPECIAL TRIBUTE TO THE LEBANESE AMERICAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE


The Ninety-Third Legislature At Lansing Monday, May 09, 2005
LET IT BE KNOWN, That it is a genuine pleasure to command and congratulate The Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce and The Lebanese American community of Michigan.

The Lebanese American community of Michigan, as well as the rest of the United States have made lasting cultural contributions to our great country. Lebanese Americans have made significant contributions in America’s political system, as many have represented the Democratic Party, Republican Party, and the Independent Party. Many hold public office at all levels of government, having served in the US Senate, US House of Representatives, White House cabinets, White House Chief of Staff, military, and other high office administrations.

With the expansion of the automotive and steel industries during the early 1900’s, many Lebanese came to Michigan to work in the regions many factories. Since then, they have contributed significantly to Michigan as many ventured into new arenas such as business, law, education, medicine, entertainment, government, and other sectors.

Among the reasons for their arrival in Michigan, many Lebanese Americans cite family unification, economic advancement, and the escape from conflicts of the Middle East.

State Representative LaMar Lemmons III, The Third District
State Representative LaMar Lemmons Jr., The Second District
State Representative Barbara Farrah, The Thirteenth District
State Representative David Farhat, The Ninety-First District
State Representative John Garfield, The Forty-Fifth District
State Representative Aldo Vagnozzi, Thirty-Seventh District
State Senator Nancy Cassis, The Fifteenth District
State Senator Gilda Z. Jacobs, The Fourteenth District

CITY OF FARMINGTON HILLS PROCLAMATION


Honoring The People of Lebanon and their Pursuit of Freedom, Sovereignty and Independence

WHEREAS, the Republic of Lebanon is one 15 countries that make up what is considered to be the cradle of humanity and historic home of the Phoenicians and Semitic traders whose cultures date back thousands of years; and

WHEREAS, Lebanon’s many ethnic and religious groups enrich the country’s diverse cuisine, musical and literary traditions, and architecture; and

WHEREAS, up to five generations of people from Lebanon have migrated to southeast Michigan in the past 100 years, making up the majority of the more than 300,000 U.S. citizens of Middle-Eastern descent who live in this area; and

WHEREAS, Lebanon has endured great hardships in the last 50 years, including a Civil War from 1975 to 1990, and the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in February, 2005; and

WHEREAS, the United States, together with the rest of the international community, support the withdrawal of Syria’s troops from Lebanon, the investigation of Hariri’s assassination, and the formation of sovereign and democratic Lebanese government through elections to be held beginning at the end of May.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that I, Vicki Barnett, Mayor of the City of Farmington Hills, on behalf of the City Council, do hereby honor the people of Lebanon and the many citizens of Lebanese descent who live in and around Farmington Hills and thank them for their many contributions to our community.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Farmington Hills stands together with the people of Lebanon in their pursuit of freedom and democracy.

OAKLAND COUNTY EXECUTIVE DECLARATION


L. Brooks Patterson hereby issues this special proclamation supporting The Citizens of Lebanon in their Quest for Freedom and Self-Determination

WHEREAS nearly 3 million people of Lebanese origin live in the United States including some 300,000 of Middle Eastern descent who make their home in Southeastern Michigan; and

WHEREAS Syrian troops ended their 29-year military presence in Lebanon on April 26, 2005 providing the Lebanese people with a unique opportunity to usher in a new era of hope and prosperity in Lebanon; and

WHEREAS the people of Lebanon have remained steadfast, strong and courageous in spite of their adversity; and

WHEREAS freedom loving people the world over stand united as one in support of Lebanon's quest to establish a democratic form of government during free and open elections scheduled for the end of May.

NOW THEREFORE LET IT BE KNOWN that I, L. Brooks Patterson, Oakland County Executive, do hereby authorize the issuance of this special proclamation which salutes the Lebanese people as they strive for a new era of freedom, sovereignty and independence.

Letter from Lebanese-Canadian Mayor Eddie Francis of Windsor, Ontario


Dear Councilman Akouri and Distinguished Guests:

Greetings from your friends and international neighbours in the City of Windsor, and congratulations to all as you gather to celebrate and honour the freedom, sovereignty and resilient people of Lebanon!

It is a pleasure for our city to join you in trusting that a new and prosperous time is developing for Lebanon, which has often been historically and properly referred to as “The Jewel of the Mediterranean”………an ancient crossroads of cultures and civilizations.

I very much regret that I will not be able to join you for the celebration, but I do wish to pass on my own best wishes and those of our City Council and our residents, as you gather for this happy occasion.

May our future together be one of peace, harmony and understanding………in Lebanon and throughout the entire world.

With all good wishes for an evening which points us toward these admirable and most achievable ideals,

Sincerely,
Mayor Eddie Francis

Statement by Chaldean National Congress


The Chaldean National Congress of Michigan (CNC-MI) stands firm in support of Lebanese people in their quest for the sovereignty, independence, and freedom of their State. It is time for democracy to take roots in the Arab World; democracy based not only on the fact of majority rules, but the recognition and the protection of the rights and rites of all religious and ethnic groups. CNC also demands a quick peaceful settlement of the situation in Iraq, which may lead to a betterment of the volatile situation of all ethnic and religious groups. We salute those Christians and Muslims of Lebanon, Iraq and in the whole Middle East who work for peace and unity of their people.

Text of Speech Delivered by Elias Khalil at Lebanon Day Event

Lebanese Contributions to the United States and the World

Merci ikteer John . Ana muy contento de estar aqui maa’ killkuun this evening.

I’m sorry you say, what did he just say? Yes, you did hear French, Spanish, Arabic and English. The languages of the people of many countries; the sounds of refugees, immigrants, explorers, seafarers; the languages of the Lebanese.

Ladies and Gentlemen, tonight I have been asked to say a few words about the contributions of Lebanese Americans to the United States and the World.

You see, any reflection on contributions made by Lebanese would be incomplete if we did not recognize the origins and evolution of the Lebanese. Today’s Lebanese are the descendents of the Phoenicians, whose seafaring explorations led them to explore the whole Mediterranean basin and some have postulated, far beyond. Intermingling with local populations thousands of years before Jesus and the Common Era, the Phoenicians set the stage for the modern Lebanese to inherit this international identity, speaking many languages, embracing the traveling spirit, and becoming ambassadors of good will wherever they settle.

Who were the Phoenicians and what did they leave as their legacy?

To the Phoenicians we owe a debt of gratitude for creating the world’s first recognized alphabet. Beyond the signs and symbols used by the Egyptians, the ancient Lebanese used the same sign whenever a particular sound occurred, creating a sequence of 22 letters, the first two being called Alpha and Bet.

In the first century of the Common Era, Beirut had one of only three law schools of antiquity. One of its renowned professors, Papinien, is accredited with stating that “all men are created equal.” 1800 years later, Dr. Charles Malik carried on this proud heritage when he co-authored, after World War II, the United Nations Human Rights Charter.

Pythagoras, known for his famous Pythagorean Theorem in Mathematics and inventor of the multiplication table, was born and raised in Sidon, Lebanon.

The whole continent of Europe owes its gratitude to the Phoenicians for its very name. The ancient princess of Tyre, a city in southern Lebanon, was named Europa, and Greek mythology states that she was kidnapped by the Greek God Zeus who took her to Greece, and the continent was given her name.

Beyond myth and back to fact, the properties of the North Star in the sky and its viability as a navigational reference were discovered by the Phoenicians. To the ancient Lebanese 2,100 years ago, we also acknowledge their invention of transparent glass, which we all rely on so much today.

20th & 21st Centuries

If we move to today and talk about the 20th and 21st centuries, we see Lebanese diligently fulfilling important roles in societies the world over. Often integrating and assimilating into the local culture, the Lebanese have become productive and respected citizens all over the globe. Today, we have approximately three million Lebanese in Lebanon and fifteen million in the Lebanese Diaspora.

Of Lebanese Descent

In the field of entertainment, we have the internationally recognized actresses Salma Hayek, Kathy Najimy, and Amy Yazbeck; the Latin-Pop Singer Shakira; the Glamour, Elle, Sports Illustrated, and Marie Claire cover girl model Yamila Diaz; the late comedian Danny Thomas; the current actor Tony Shalhoub; actor and former star of the T.V. Show M*A*S*H, Jamie Farr; the singer Paul Anka; and the voice of “American Top 40” Music Countdown, Casey Kasem. To name just a few.
In the field of sports, Doug Flutie, John Elway, and Jeff George are three of the
many professional athletes of Lebanese descent.
In the field of writing, we have our esteemed guest of honor Elias Akouri; Hollywood sitcom writer Cindy Mort; 1990 Pulitzer Prize Winner Steven Naifeh; internationally recognized journalist and author Amin Maalouf; former Dean of the White House Press Corps Helen Thomas; and one of America’s great poet-philosophers Gibran Khalil Gibran.

In the field of science and academics, we have Elias Zerhouni, current director of the National Institutes of Health in Washington D.C.; Christa McAuliffe, teacher and astronaut on the fatal flight of the Space Shuttle Challenger; Michael Debaky, Heart Surgeon and Chancellor of Baylor University College of Medicine; and David Adamany, former president of Wayne State University.
In the field of business and entrepreneurship, we have Paul Orfalea, founder and CEO of Kinko’s; Jack Nasser, former President of Ford Motor Company; Joseph Abboud, founder and designer of Joseph Abboud clothing line; and Carlos Ghosn, current President of Nissan Motor Company.
And finally, in the field closest to the heart of all of you here tonight, the field of politics and public service. The countries of Guatemala, Ecuador, and Argentina have all had Presidents of Lebanese descent. With approximately eight million citizens of Lebanese descent in Brazil, twenty percent of the National Parliament there can claim Lebanese ancestry.

With approximately three million Americans of Lebanese descent in the U.S., we can start in this room with great local public servants like Councilman John Akoury. In Michigan we have had the former Attorney General Joseph Deeb, and former U.S. Senator and Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham. Across the country we had John H. Sununu as Chief of Staff under President George H.W. Bush; Donna Shalala as Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Clinton; and U.S. Army Central Commander currently directing U.S. military operations in Iraq, General John Abizaid; again just to name a few.

Lebanese Americans are proud and dedicated citizens of this country. Ordinarily we do not publicly display the labels of our ancestry; for when we settle down, we integrate and assimilate. Yet recognizing that this particular country, the United States, draws its very strength from its cultural and ethnic diversity , we are proud tonight and always, to be a part of the mosaic that is America. Thank you, or as I stated earlier, merci ikteer for giving me this opportunity to share with you some of the richness of our Lebanese heritage.

Written by Elias Joseph Khalil, American Citizen of Lebanese descent. Elias is a teacher of Economics, World Religions, and International Affairs at North Farmington High School, in Farmington Hills, Michigan. He can be reached at elias.khalil@farmington.k12.mi.us

Lebanese National Anthem Performed by Singing Superstar Amalia Kaadou


LEBANESE LYRICS
Kulluna lil-watan, lil'ula lil-'alam
Mil'u ayn az-zaman, saifuna wal-qalam
Sahluna wal-jabal, manbitun lir-rijal
Qawluna wal-'amal fi sabil al-kamal
Kulluna lil-watan, lil'ula lil-'alam, Kulluna lil-watan

Shaykhuna wal-fata, 'Inda sawt al-watan
Usdu ghaben mata, sawaratna al-fitan
Sharquna qalbuhu, abadan Lubnan
Sanahu rabbuhu, li-mada al-azman
Kulluna lil-watan, lil'ula lil-'alam, Kulluna lil-watan

Bahruhu barruhu, durratu-sharqayn
Ramzuhu birruhu, mali' al-qutbayn
Ismuhu 'izzuhu, munzou kana al-judud
Majduhu arzuhu, ramzuhu lil-khulud
Kulluna lil-watan, lil'ula lil-'alam, kulluna lil-watan.

ENGLISH TRANSLATION
All for the country, for the glory, for the flag
From the beginning of centuries, our pencil and sword
Our field and mountains are making the men
Our word and work on the way of perfection
All for the country, for the glory, for the flag

Young and old at the voice of the country
Lions of forest at the time of violation
Our east is its heart forever Lebanon
Its God protects it all over the time
All for the country, for the glory, for the flag

Its sea, its land, are the pearl of the two orients
Its symbol, its charity, fill up the two poles
Its name is its triumph since the time of our grandfathers
Its glory is its cedars, its symbol is for the end of epochs
All for the country, for the glory, for the flag

Friday, May 06, 2005

Akouri Joins World Leaders at Grand Opening of Arab American National Museum

Premiere Cultural Center Rolls Out the Red-carpet
(DEARBORN, MI)…Farmington Hills City Councilman John Akouri, an American of Lebanese-descent, joined Arab League Secretary-General Amr Mousa, Jordanian Ambassador to the US Karim Kawar, Lebanese Ambassador to the US Farid Abboud, Lybian Deputy Chief of UN Mission Abdulhamid O. Yahya and hundreds of other dignitaries and visitors from the United States and the Middle East who were gathered Thursday, May 5, to officially open the Arab American National Museum - the first dedicated solely to the preservation of Arab-American history.

Arabian horses in full regalia, jugglers, a band, dancers and drummers led the celebration for the Museum, the first of its kind to exclusively display the rich heritage and achievements of Arab Americans. A red carpet started on the steps of the Dearborn City Hall and traveled across Michigan Avenue to the Museum’s grand entrance. Guests at the civic gala reception walked across the street for the ribbon-cutting ceremony at 5:30 p.m. with Amre Moussa who presided over the official opening.

Clad in Canadian marble, crowned by a dome and enriched with panels of cast-stone arabesques, tiles from Morocco and Arabic calligraphy, the Museum is exquisitely finished inside and out. The Museum will showcase the rich and diverse heritage of the Arab American community, highlighting the contributions Arabs have made and continue to make in the United States. The 38,500 square foot building on Michigan Avenue will lead visitors to a tiled fountain with artifacts from all over the U.S. and the Arab World and will preserve three main galleries.

As the first of its kind, the Museum is having an international impact. Contributors to the $15.3 million project include 22 corporations from across the country, hundreds of individuals, the state of Michigan, the National Endowment for the Humanities, a Congressional appropriation and Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Dubai. Grants and earned revenue from memberships, sales in the gift shop and leasing of spaces for special events are expected to provide the annual operating budget of just more than $2 million.
10 Facts About The Museum
1. It is the first of the country's 15,000 museums devoted exclusively to Arab-American culture.
2. Hundreds of individuals, state and federal grants, 22 corporations and even several Arab nations funded the $15.3 million cultural center.
3. It is an offspring of Dearborn's Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services.
4. The building exterior blends clean, modern lines with Arabic calligraphy, a dome and cast-stone arabesques.
5. Exhibits contain 100 interactive elements, including a map that covers all 22 Arab nations.
6. Ground-floor cases display contributions of the Arab world to music, mathematics, medicine and law.
7. The second level is devoted to the three-part themed core show: "Coming to America," "Living in America" and "Making an Impact."
8. Museum director Anan Ameri interviewed Arab Americans across the country to get material for the exhibits.
9. Some 500 artifacts that give substance to the displays were all donated.
10. The museum houses a 158-seat auditorium, a library, an art gallery, classrooms, meeting facilities and a museum shop.

JOHN AKOURI ONLINE NEWSROOM 'We will confront this mortal danger to all humanity. We will not tire, or rest, until the war on terror is won.' -- PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH Add to end of above"line without paranthesis when wanting to loop sound (( loop="-1">